By Morgan Michalowski, CNM, WHNP-BC, IBCLC
Endless volumes have been written about pregnancy and parenting, and yet SO LITTLE of that writing focuses on the months immediately following birth. Here at Gravida, we’re trying to rectify that, and shed a whole lot of light on the hidden wonders of the fourth trimester. In this article, we’ll explore what to expect during month 2 of your postpartum life, and offer some coping strategies for the unique challenges of this action-packed four-week period!
(Looking for help during months 1 or 3 instead? Here you go! How to Survive the Fourth Trimester Without Losing Your Mind: Month 1 | How to Survive the Fourth Trimester Without Losing Your Mind: Month 3.)
Month 2 of your fourth trimester: Fussy baby
As a quick reminder, the fourth trimester starts the moment your baby is born and lasts until she’s three months old. It’s a period of significant change and development for both you and your newborn since you’re both adjusting to your baby’s new world outside your womb.
When you enter month 2 of your fourth trimester, you may find yourself saying, “Where did my sweet, sleepy baby go?” By now you’ll find that she’s more awake, alert, and active than ever before. Around 4-6 weeks, there's a peak in crying activity and most kiddos experience a significant growth spurt. From every day onward, you will wake to a different child every morning … sometimes every hour.
In preparation for your return to work from maternity leave—which will take place while you’re unable to sleep through the night—you might feel like a failure for not having this whole parenting thing down. You’re not a failure. No one has it together at this stage, I promise.
- Your mind is wired for baby, your hormones are still stabilizing, your body is wobbly and healing.
- You are managing a massive life change, so focus on doing the best you can and NEVER judge yourself for being tired, asking for help, or taking a shortcut.
If you're not breastfeeding:
- Expect a period around this time in your postpartum life.
- If you haven’t already, it’s time to think about birth control!
If you are breastfeeding:
- Hopefully you’re starting to find a rhythm with feeding your baby, eating to replenish your milk and energy, and resting.
- Seek support from outside professionals if you’re experiencing any nipple soreness or damage, or if you’re concerned about your baby’s weight gain.
At 6 weeks you’ll be cleared to begin exercising again. (Unless you had complications! Check with your OB if you have any doubts.)
- Start slow and find a workout program that helps you stabilize your core, like Every Mother.
- Again, be gentle and nonjudgmental with yourself. It took 9 months to grow a baby, it will take at least 9 months to heal!
If at all possible:
- Hire someone to run errands for you during month two of your fourth trimester. Or ask a family member to help you keep your home life in order as you prepare for your return to work.
- Asking for help is your greatest strength. You're not failing when you do this; you're setting yourself up for ongoing success.
- Think of it this way: Imagine you’ve never climbed a mountain but then read a ton about mountain climbing, and then find yourself climbing Mt. Everest. That’s you right now. It’s awkward and hard. If the floor has gone un-vacuumed since you got home from the hospital, cut yourself some slack. If an un-vacuumed floor is driving you nuts—because let’s be real, a clean space does wonders for the mind—rely on your greatest strength, help from others.
- Expect your baby to need 14 hours of sleep per day, 2-4 naps per day.
- Short naps are common in month 2. Infants at this age often sleep longer when contact napping (A.K.A. sleeping on your chest). If you’re working on getting your baby to sleep independently, plan to invest a good amount of energy on establishing a nap time routine.
- Expect 8-12 feedings within 24 hours (breast or bottle)
- If breastfeeding, introduce a bottle at 2-4 weeks. Continue to offer a bottle once a day.
- Expect your baby to cluster-feed due to a growth spurt between 6-8 weeks. Mini feeding marathons and diaper changing sessions are on their way!
Two-month-old babies are gaining more control over their bodies, and they’re more engaged with the world. This means they get a little overstimulated sometimes. Overstimulation can turn into fussiness very quickly. So, enlist a Designated Baby Bouncer—preferably someone with jacked legs—to bounce and walk your baby between the hours of 4-8 p.m. when developmental fussiness peaks.
- The fussiness that appears during month 2 postpartum tapers off around 8-12 weeks, but when you’re in the thick of it nights are hard and lonely.
- If you’re at home alone, join our Late Night Show Starring...Mom! email list where’ll you’ll get podcast recommendations, best TV shows for new parents, an inspiring quote or two.
- If you're at a party or family gathering with your fussy baby, let someone know that you might need a pat on the back while you pat your baby's.
What you can do:
If you’re pregnant:
- Practice asking for help. Can’t tie your shoes? Ask for help. Need a snack but too tired to move? Ring that bell! This is not laziness! You're strengthening a muscle you need to flex postpartum.
If you’re postpartum, here are a few signs you may need additional nutritional or outside professional support:
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Feeling tired as soon as you wake
- Falling asleep unintentionally
- Hyper-vigilance (a feeling that the “radar” is constantly on)
- Loss of self-esteem, feelings of frustration or overwhelm, a sense of not coping
- Baby brain or mental fog
- Loss of libido or painful intercourse
The biggest hurdle during month 2?
Learning that fussiness is normal, and not something to be taken to heart. It can be absolutely gut-wrenching to have an infant who seems uncomfortable and upset most of the time, to try everything and be unable to soothe her. But this is a normal developmental stage that’s tied to accelerated growth and baby’s new and overwhelming awareness of her world. She will adjust. This too shall pass!
Looking for support during month 1 or month 3 of your fourth trimester? We’ve got you covered! Click the links below to read the other articles in this comprehensive postpartum series.
If you have questions or are looking for more support postpartum, please click here to reach out to us!